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Discussion Starter · #21 ·
Sorry that there haven't been any updates for a while. Work, life and everything else has been crazy, but I finally have some updates to share.

I got super lucky this year, and there was a Santa available to get me a transmission. Apparently, someone perjured themselves to Santa, and told him I was a VERY good boy, so I ended up picking up a lower mileage unit off of car-part.com. Took a couple extra days to come in, but they threw in the torque converter, so that was cool. In the mean time, I stashed away what parts I could, and picked up all the odds and ends I could think of, while addressing more issues that have developed on this car in its slumber.

In addition to the cracked transmission housing, I also developed a leak in transmission cooler lines. Yay! So, I got replacement lines in, and have just been planning this out. Been spending time bookmarking and saving the appropriate resources so I can quickly find the info I am going to need to complete the extensive list of repairs I have planned. So far, I have the transmission, a new cooler and the lines. I am also going to be resealing the motor, after giving it a timing chain, oil pump, water pump, belt/tensioner, pulleys and all sorts of other good stuff for the motor. Plus, I am going to do brakes on all wheels, rear springs and shocks, axel seals and new fluids all around. I am going to know almost every nut and bolt on this car by the time I am done.

Saturday, I was able to get the car to my undisclosed workspace, complete with lift, tools, and extra hands. Of course, Sunday night, a wicked cold snap decided to get comfortable here in Colorado, causing some frozen pipes around my house, and distracting me from getting this project back on the road. It has been almost a year, and I can feel how close I am to enjoying my car, assuming the snow and cold ever decides to give me a break.

So that is what is up for right now. As I get stuff done, I will try and remember to take a few pictures and list out everything that I get fixed and what I find, that way the next person may be able to use the information. Thanks again to everyone who takes the time out to read, I appreciate it!
 

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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
Got my first night of wrenching on the car in today. Wasn't too long, only a couple hours. My dad and I are both working on this after hours, so still going to be some time before we get the engine out. Today, we went ahead and just started to get things taken apart. Things are going slowly, mainly because I am doing my best to not break everything I touch. Some of the plastic clips aren't liking me, and we snapped a couple exhaust bolts, but progress is being made.

I am noticing that my Formula is certainly a 20 footer. Lots of just random body damage all over I didn't notice when I got it. This car is a bit rough, but I love it that way. It just means that if I want to do something, I can. I don't have to worry about the chips or the paint being ruined.

More to come tomorrow. As of right now, I have a couple margaritas calling my name. Gonna relax tonight, and then use my day off tomorrow to get more done. Thanks for reading, and I hope you guys have a good night.
 

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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
Did a bit more on the car tonight. Really, just taking my time to make sure I break as little connections as possible, and doing my best to ensure everything is marked and put to the side properly so I can find it all when we are putting it back together. I have also been making some interesting discoveries while taking things apart.

I am not the first person who has been poking around under the hood of this car. Not much of a surprise, seeing as it is over 20 years old, but man, the things that I keep finding are crazy. For one, I had an alternator bolt just about wiggle out. Turns out, it wasn't even the right bolt! Oh, and the bracket itself appears to have been broken at some point, and left as it was. The alternator was secure, so I haven't been too worried, just haven't seen that yet. Also, there have been more than a couple bolts that were finger tight, or less. One of those bolts was for the intake! I am genuinely shocked at how well and smoothly that engine was running! The air pump seems to be barely mounted as well, and easily wiggled when chasing around underneath for connections.

Hopefully, I have enough time to try and get in tomorrow and see if we can get that engine lowered out of the car. Then, it is on the 20 years or so of deferred maintenance and repairs that this car has been begging for. Once I am sure that we get it all sealed back up and nothing is leaking, I have a bunch of driving to do! Anyways, time for a beer or three. Thanks for taking the time out to read, and I hope you guys have a good day.
 

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It seems like this build has been keeping you busy for months now. I was hoping to see a photo on this thread to see the progress that you are talking about.
 

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Discussion Starter · #25 ·
I apologize. Time and money have been my biggest factors slowing me up. It is just me and my Dad working in our little space, and we are working around both of our day/second jobs to do this as a hobby, and to have some fun. I will also admit to not always being prepared with my phone to take pictures when we are wrenching. Just get lost focusing in on getting the work done. But we do have an update for today.

Tonight, we got the engine and transmission liberated from the chassis. It is a mess. Now starts the fun part. Over the next week, we are just going to be chipping away at this. I have timing chain, water pump, pulleys, transmission lines. Just all sorts of stuff that has been ignored or will end up causing me a headache later down the road. Still have to do the axel seals and wheel bearings too in the back, as well as a transmission cooler, so lots to keep me busy.

Not much in the way pictures, but I did remember to grab a couple shots of the engine out of the chassis, as well as a couple shots to show just how messy it is on that motor. I can't tell how many leaks I have, but I can tell how many I will have when I am done.

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As always, I appreciate you guys taking the time out to read this. As I get stuff done, or if anything interesting happens, I will be updating you here. Hope you have a good rest of your night.
 

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Discussion Starter · #26 ·
Not too much to report. Spent about an hour getting the engine off the cradle, and just taking things apart to get them cleaned, and thing prepped for replacement. I did want to show just how many parts I have been planning on replacing on this car. Just doing the grind until I get it back up and running, working on my car after a day job, and the occasional side hustle.

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Just a bunch of stuff I have been planning for a while, and now I finally have the time and money to get it all in. Outside will still look rough, but it will be practically new underneath! Honestly, with all the loose bolts, bolts installed backwards, things missing, torn up plug wires, I am surprised it ran as well as it did! Who knows how much this car will scare me once I get it back up and running right!

Anyways, I am gonna get some rest. Tomorrow, I don't think I will have some time in the shop, but my next day off is Friday, and I wont be working again until Tuesday! Hoping to have it close to ready by then, and start using it every day! Thanks for taking the time out to read and follow along.
 

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Discussion Starter · #27 ·
Sorry, this is going to be brief. Not quite back on the road, however, we are REALLY close. I am driving myself nuts trying to get back in, and finally enjoy my car. The big highlight? We fired the engine today for the first time. We have oil pressure, and it idles nice, and warmed up. Got a leak from a steam port. Fun. My brain is fried, and all I can think about is driving. Gonna sleep, drink beer, and try and get back in and on it! When I can think again, I will try to remember some pictures, and the clip I got of the motor.
 

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Discussion Starter · #28 ·
We did it! The Formula is now up and driving around. Been taking it slow, making sure fluids, leaks, and all that are in check, but after the last 2 months or so of wrenching each day, little bit at a time, I have my Firebird back!

We had planned to replace a bunch of stuff, and replaced a ton we didn't even plan on at first. For the last couple weeks, the nice people at my local U Pull It yard were asking if I had clocked in yet! We basically did all the maintenance that we could, that was deferred. All the gaskets on the motor, new plugs/wires/coil. I did an ICM as well, but that was throwing a code, so I went back to the original one. We also replaced the shift cable, water pump, oil pump, timing chain, as well as the transmission and lines. The back was treated to some new coil springs. Also, I managed to break a few things on removal, so lots of time chasing vacuum lines, and a starter removed from a Buick Road master at the local yard. The most difficult part was not breaking clips and connections, and we broke a few. Thankfully, in addition to that road master, there were a couple 94 z28s available for me to get what I need.

Now, she isn't complete yet. In the name of time, we skipped the brakes for the time being. My currently work, but could use replacement. I also still need to get in, and service the rear axel, as well as the suspension, and address the ABS/Brake light on my Dash. But for now, I can finally enjoy my car for a little bit. This has honestly been a long time coming for me. I neglected my 77 for too long, so being able to say I got my 97 back really means the world!

I plan to keep reading and looking around here, see if I can help the next guy who wants to get a cool car up and running. The information here, and at Shoebox's website have saved me from literally going crazy on this project! Huge thanks to Coco as well! It seems like your insight was there every time I needed to look for something, even if I wasn't the first person to ask it! If you are ever in Colorado, look me up! I am pretty sure I owe you a beer for all this!

Thanks again to all of you who took the time to read this! I will keep posting updates as I get them. Getting the motor and transmission done is just the beginning for my adventures with this Firebird! PXL_20210313_220856686.jpg PXL_20210313_233650019.jpg PXL_20210306_205155669.jpg PXL_20210314_000035724.jpg PXL_20210314_014238002.jpg PXL_20210322_000932417.jpg PXL_20210401_123910507.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter · #29 ·
Been a couple weeks, so I figured I would toss up a quick update.

The Firebird drives fantastic. Lots of power, feels nice and smooth on the freeway, and surprisingly quiet. It is easy to have a conversation in the car, or listen to music without maxing out the speakers. Not to say that I haven't had a few things go wrong. My new ICM started to have an issue and toss a SES, so I went back to the stock one. My new alternator also died, and I replaced that one with a unit out of the junkyard for right now, and I had to replace my battery terminal bolts, as they were also giving me grief. There is also a pulley squeal I need to chase down, along with some stuff I discovered today.

My dad and I decided to tackle the axel seals, bearings, and the rear brakes today, as well as the rear shocks. The pads and rotors on the back were toast. I maybe had a day of life left in them. While we were there, I noticed that my sway bar end links are also thrashed, so something else to fix! Surprisingly, that isn't a bad thing. I am super happy that I am down to little stuff that I can do in my yard on the weekends, rather than need a lift and full shop to take care of.

Also of note, I got a new set of tires on the way in. Turns out, the last guy was running some narrow stuff. The tires that are currently on the care are 215/60/16s. My guess is that they were trying to put on tires, but couldn't find the factory size. To replace them, I am going with a new set of Toyo Extensa HP II in 245/50/16! Cant wait to really feel how this car holds to the road and brakes when it has a bit more rubber to use.

Outside of some little things, this car has been great. Just planning on continuing to wrench as stuff comes up, and just keep enjoying it for now. As always, I appreciate you taking the time out to read and catch up with my project.

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